26 March, 2015

My route to Segovia after leaving the ferry in Bilbao was pretty basic.  South on the Autopistas (motorways with tolls) and Autovias (free motorways) in northern Spain before heading south-west along a Nacionales (national highways) – my favourites – to Segovia and the Hotel Don Felipe in the Old City.

In researching for this post I was surprised to read in Wikipedia that Spain in 2013 had 16,583 km of highways, the biggest network in Europe and the third in the world, only after the USA and China.  And most of these roads are pretty good – especially for motorcyclists.  Seems they didn’t make to many with long straight sections – just plenty of great corners of all varieties – take them as fast or slow as you feel comfortable.

A few drops of rain on my visor let me know the inclement skies that greeted me in Bilbao were in fact rain yielding – just how much only time would tell.  By the time I’d made it through the first of the two tolls I’d encounter this afternoon the rain was pretty constant but luckily not too heavy so the roads weren’t too bad, though some caution was warranted.  This first toll was pretty reasonable costing only a couple of euros – but it’s always a hassle paying them.  The second toll was a tad more at €21.50 but well worth it for a good road faced with persistent rain and a goal of getting to my hotel in Segovia before dark.

By the time I’d made it to the autovia the rain was clearing and every mile south the conditions improved.  Pretty soon whilst still overcast, there was no more rain and the roads were dry.  Just in time for the fast approaching N-110 that would take me south-west to Segovia.

Leaving the A-1 around Santo Tomé del Puerto it was already past 1800 and I still had almost 40 miles to go plus the challenge of finding the Hotel Don Felipe in the Old City part of Segovia.  I reckon the the light will hold and the rain was behind me.  Should be smooth sailing the rest of the way from here.

And it was.  The N-110 was a real treat to ride for this last leg of my first day riding in Spain on this Vuelta a Andalucia.  After 20 minutes riding on this sublime road, I pulled over and set up my GoPro Hero 2 to take a video of the rest of the journey to Segovia – on what I hoped would be as good as the bit of the N-110 I’d just ridden.  Here’s a taste of my experience.

I’d forgotten how good the roads in Spain could be and was looking forward to getting to my base in Benalmádena and riding as many Nacionales (N Roads) as I can fit in. Will do my best to steer clear of the Autovias and definitely no more Autopistas.

I made it to the outskirts of Segovia around 1945 and now had the tricky challenge of finding my hotel in the old city.  Based on past experiences this could be tricky – navigating narrow cobbled, mostly one-way streets with minimal street signage to supplement my GPS guidance, which has been known to let me down under similar circumstances previously by not being completely current with all the one-way streets and pedestrian only zones that old cities have.  Here’s how I got on …

That wasn’t too bad after all, only had to go the wrong way back a one-way lane, getting told off by a Spanish motorist in the process, once – not sure what he was complaining about as I’d left him heaps of room!  Not bad for me.  Anyway, that was my riding done for the day and  was most enjoyable in spite of the rain and motorways, the N-110 leaving me hungry for more and looking forward to tomorrow’s ride.

Route from Bilbao to Segovia

GPS tracks of my route from Bilbao to Segovia

With the Family Truckster parked up the street a short walk away from the Hotel Don Felipe, I grabbed my laptop bag and helmet and went to check in.  Luckily for me the check-in staff spoke good English and they soon explained how to get to the garage at the rear of the hotel.   Leaving my laptop bag at reception I ventured back to where I’d parked and made the relatively straightforward journey (well I didn’t get lost or have to backtrack) to the street behind the hotel where I found the garage entrance and  an attendant who provided signals indicating where he’d like me to park in this undercover, secure parking facility – as good as I’d ever experienced in my many tours on the Family Truckster.

Garage entry Hotel Don Felipe, Segovia

The garage entry at the rear of the Hotel Don Felipe in Segovia

I unloaded a pannier bag and my camera bag, locked the panniers and top box and activated the alarm, bidding the Family Truckster a good night.

K1600GT in secure garage in Segovia

The Family Truckster safe and sound in Segovia in Hotel Don Felipe’s secure garage

I ventured to the lift that would take me up a few floors to reception to complete the check-in process. This was a big improvement on other hotels I’d stayed in – usually you have to lug your kit up several flights of stairs.  On the way I noticed an odd feeling of movement almost like I was still on the ferry – it was odd as I’d not felt this all afternoon whilst riding.

After finalising checking in, getting my card key and advice on where to dine this evening I located my room.

Hang on a sec – the card key is not unlocking the door.  I tried again – no success.  Leaving all my kit outside the door I ventured back to reception to advise of the trouble I was having getting into my room.  Following the receptionist back to my room, much to surprise she went down a completely different corridor in the other direction from where I’d just been.

What’s going on here?

To be continued ….